Why Zimbabwe Will Not Resist

by Ñacha E. Chiundiza

So far Zimbabwe has produced one poet, one intellectual, one spiritual leader. The Vera's, the Kanengoni's, or the Mungoshi's-for all their uses in
Post-Colonial and African Literature courses, and recognition in Scandinavian countries-don't stand a chance.

He, not Doris Lessing, is Zimbabwe’s poet laureate. As for intellectuals, it’s a similar matter. From Terrence Ranger, Ibbo Mandaza, to Brian Raftopolous, his verbosity overwhelms any possibility of wit or insight. Who else-Ezekiel Guti? Tom Deuschle? Noah Pashapa? Pius Ncube? Tudor Bismark? Richmond Chiundiza?-has been able to capture the spiritual malaise of the Zimbabwean?
I have begun by naming names in order to raise awareness to a public failure that has befallen the domains most intimately involved in shaping
the spiritual and moral lives of Zimbabweans that could lead to any moral resistance. For those who disagree, I ask one simple thing: quote one
sentence from our so-called poets. For all our love of Marachera’s trangressiveness, or let’s say, Vera’s pregnant poetics, who remembers a
word of it? For all the academic research that has been embarked on, who can remember a poignant theory that captures or retains keen retrospect or
foresight in this time of blindness? The spiritual tenor has been no better.
Between bystanders and apologists, Zimbabwe’s religious leaders have bellowed exhaustively about the promise of the “ever after”. The hear and
now has been swallowed into individualist capitalistic schemes and weakly rationalized opportunism.
Robert Mugabe is the poet, intellectual  and spiritual laureate of Zimbabwe. He has captured the local in its vernacular, its potency and
reduced it to a vehicle of his imagination, as any strong poet would.
As any strong poet would, is my point precisely. At this very moment Zimbabweans are being asked to resist something that poets and theologians,
in other parts of the world call, evil (although this word has acquired limited and impotent connotations under two western auspices), what some
intellectuals have called decisively oppression. This contention however occurs in a local world that has been reshaped into new a moral order that
misuses and reuses for its purposes the very language of order. This is the problématique that belies moral resistance: An internal confusion has
occurred. Here, where moral resistance was never fully articulated, is required a feat of critique of imaginative proportions, to resist the poet’s
“jargon of authenticity”.  What promise is there,  what ideal can be sought, where none but the ideals that one resists exist?
Some will say there is an impending ideal, embodied  in the speech and deeds, of the political opposition of MDC and certain civil groups. Yes they
are correct but wrong. Are promises-mind you political promises-of economic and good governance adequate enough to persuade moral resistance?  Yes the poetry of politics articulates the problem as inflation, the rise of the parallel market, the loss of democratic practices, human rights abuses. Yet
are we forgetting what sort Zimbabwe people are living in, where nearly every Zimbabwe has become complicit in these very abuses? We are now all
relying on the black market, on nepotism, on the misfortune of others, on the underpayment of those economically subordinate to us.
The re-emergence or the promise of the return of order is not as welcome as it is sometimes spun. It may in fact be a cause of dread, dreaded more than  the present disorder that exists. The current state has created a bitter yet sweet state of tabla rasa and amnesia. It has cleared the field (literally)
and provided a topsy-turvy carnival that one only experiences once in a while in dreams. A return to order would be mean forfeiting this new
fantastical domain. This is the strength of Robert Mugabe’s poetry. It has fed the “lesser angels” into zvipoko (monsters) .  A furor of fantasies tempts Zimbabweans.
The full spectrum of nihilism is there for all : from a will to power,  to a will to powerlessness.
Believe it or not, but a new moral asceticism, a political activism bordering on Ghandism is required. Basing his moral tenor on ressentiment
(revenge of the morally weak) Mugabe has conveyed a narrative that is alluring to a morally disoriented citizenry-black and non-black-that has
never adequately re-imagined its past selves in language both encompassing and regenerative.
My mention of Zimbabwe current poets and intellectuals and religious leaders is to point at this very weakness. In all three domains there has been no
advancement in the local epistemes of self-knowledge. Each has received its directives and criteria primarily from the government or foreign
institutions with self-serving objectives. (This practice goes farther than after independence). The indebtedness of Zimbabwean literature, the
Zimbabwean academia and its Christian religious sects to the centralized government and the Scandinavians is untold. It has left a void of any
private or normative incentive to engage and understand Zimbabwean realities. This has allowed for a binary-that Mugabe has used effectively in
his poetics-to become so believable, that a Zimbabweans affiliations are either to ZANU-PF or to the West. This binary has moral and identitarian
implications. Yes, if one is not a “western puppet” how then does one practice goodness to the point of resisting a narrative, an unfolded reality that one is already included and participating in?The exclusion of Zimbabweans to their own difference, either as an identity, a thought or feeling has reached its climax. There is no difference.
Resistance, I believe is motivated by difference, by the hope of being what one is not, but what one could be. Resistance relies on self-knowledge that
can suffer its own negation, that can imaginatively obtain sacrifice as sacrificing the self for another self. Until thinking, feeling and speaking
orients and penetrates Zimbabweans in-difference, with insight and nuance that extends beyond their experience, Zimbabweans will not have the strength or imagination to resist the naked Emperor.

Post published in: Opinions

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